Archive for Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Coal-fired plants still hot topic in House races

Tony Brown, John Coen, Tom Sloan, & John Wilson all give their opening statements.

October 21, 2008


Election 2008

In-depth coverage of the candidates and the issues, all leading up to the Aug. 5 primary and the Nov. 4 general election.

Candidates in two state House district races on Monday clashed over the issue that dominated the last legislative session and will probably re-emerge in the next legislative session: coal-burning power plants.

In the District 10 race, Democrat Tony Brown of Baldwin City said the proposal to build two 700-megawatt coal-fired plants in southwest Kansas would have been "catastrophic for the next generation."

But his Republican opponent, John Coen, of Franklin County, said he supported the project because it had high environmental standards and meant "economic development for western Kansas."

In the District 45 race, incumbent Republican Tom Sloan of Lawrence voted for the project, saying it gained his support after the House accepted environmental provisions that he put in. He said coal, especially the potential of so-called clean-coal technology, must be part of a balanced energy plan.

But his opponent, John Wilson of Lawrence, opposed the project, and said clean coal was a misnomer. "Putting clean in front of something doesn't make it so," he said.

The mining and transportation of coal adds to the pollution produced by coal burning, he said.

The four candidates participated in a forum at Free State High School that was put on by the Voter Education Coalition.

During the last legislative session, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius vetoed legislation to build the coal-fired plants, citing health and environmental concerns about carbon dioxide emissions from the project.

On the issue of potential budget cuts because of the worsening economy, the candidates said Kansas was probably in a little better shape economically than many other states.

Wilson said one way to avoid cuts was to increase revenue through investments in renewable energy and associated jobs.

Wilson and Sloan disagreed on the law approved in 2006 that allows Kansans to get a license to carry concealed guns. Wilson said he opposed it, while Sloan voted for it. "I trust my neighbors," Sloan said. Both Brown and Coen said they supported the law.

The Voter Education Coalition is a nonpartisan partnership of 18 local groups interested in promoting voter participation and civic dialogue.


KEITHMILES05 9 years, 7 months ago

Legislators in eastern Ks. need to be concerned about their polluting coal fired centers before you pass judgement. What you are breathing is far, far worse than anything which will ever happen in western Ks.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Keith, the polluting coal fired centers in eastern Kansas have been a correct concern of many folks over the years. However, by next year JEC and LEC will have completed upgrades to render this point moot. JEC is almost completed right now (the largest coal facility in Kansas). So the legislators have no reason to be concerned since this problem is now being addressed.

CatFan 9 years, 7 months ago

But even with the upgrades, the eastern KS coal plants will still emit more per kilowatt-hour than the new units at Holcomb. More CO2, more NOx, more SOx. Why does eastern Kansas get to burn inexpensive coal while western Kansas is forced to burn expensive natural gas? (Wind is an intermittent source; some type of conventional generation must still be used.) If eastern Kansas folks were willing to spread the cost benefits of their coal plants evenly across the state, I bet you'd hear less criticism from the west. Everyone wants a clean environment; this is really a debate about who must pay the cost. It appears that Obama will win the election. Even for Republican Kansas that is a good thing, because it means the Gov. will likely move on. We need a governor whose first concern is the welfare of the entire state.

coldandhot 9 years, 7 months ago

Tony Brown is not qualified to run for the House. He will be a disaster for the tenth district.

Chris Golledge 9 years, 7 months ago

Just like to point out that the odds are good that Obama will be the next president and he has pledged to give the EPA the authority to treat CO2 as a pollutant. I believe that is a good decision, but whether I believe it is or not is moot; the reality is that it is the most likely thing to happen. I still think that by the time these plants could be built they would hardly be profitable. Which would likely mean that we, the customer base, will shoulder the bill without getting the benefit.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Catfan, as I have pointed out to others before, it is not eastern Kansas citizens who get to make this decision on coal usage-nor is it the legislature. It is Westar Energy, Inc. While it would be "nice" if they entered a business agreement with Sunflower, Westar doesn't play nice-they play for profit and attempt to be "nice" as they do it, but if they have to play hardball they will. By the way, I would be interested in seeing your source on the assertion about the SOx. BTW, Midwest entered into an agreement with Westar to get some more power from them as opposed earlier plants to obtain it from Holcomb II. This lessens the total amount of electricity from the Holcomb II that would be kept in Kansas. Tri-State is looking again at their options of building a plant in Colorado but there are major obstacles in that plan as well. Thanks.

CatFan 9 years, 7 months ago

Belexus73, I believe Midwest still has an agreement to get power from the new Holcomb plants. Anything new with Westar would replace some or all of their existing contracts that are expiring.Whether the power from the new plants stays in state or goes out of state should not impact the decision to build. Plant emissions do not obey state or national borders. A coal plant built in Colorado or Texas will add just as much CO2, NOx and SOx to the atmosphere as the same plant built here. The benefit of building here is to our economy and the support for new transmission that can also be used for wind.

Bill Griffith 9 years, 7 months ago

Catfan, I was told by a Midwest executive that the Westar power agreement was directly related to the uncertainty of Holcomb II. One can still read into that with a slant either way. You of course are entitled to your opinion that where the power goes should not have an impact on whether to build or not (I happen to agree with that opinion as well), however it was a major hurdle to enough legislators and apparently the majority of citizens polled on the issue-so it is a significant obstacle to overcome. As far as the transmission argument goes, I will disagree with you there. Three of the four transmission lines that were going to be built before Holcomb II was nixed are still moving forward and the other one was to go to Colorado and matters little as far as renewable energy is concerned since Eastern Colorado is a healthy wind resource. Still interested in the SOx citation as I have been to bogged down to look for it myself. Thanks.

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